I have been playing with fan conventions as an amateur (READ: not my full time job) event designer and promoter for over a decade. In that time, I learned that conventions are very similar to theme parks in a number of way. My favorite parallel? Con guides and park brochures.
Essentially the same thing, con guides and park brochures both present where to find entertainment (panels, rides, shows, etc.) and what time said entertainment is supposed to occur. Somehow, though, theme park employees still get asked the most obvious of questions:
“What time is the three o’clock parade?”
The point being: even if you print it, make it pretty and hand it out, people don’t like to read when they are out to be entertained. Thus theme parks and fan conventions both donate hours of time and creative energy to an element of their respective businesses that (let’s face it) less then 20% of attendees actually read.
Sure: everyone picks one up… but how many people keep them? How many get lost? How many get destroyed from a sweaty back pockets in fanboy jeans?
The solution: put it on smart phones. For a couple of years, fan conventions have been looking for ways to create an App for their respective shows. I noticed an article on The Convention Fans Blog about a universal app that can be customized for events and I looked into it for our (then) upcoming convention: The Florida Anime Experience.
Thus, I discovered the Guidebook App.
Guidebook is a clever app (for both Android and iPhone) that allows shows of all sizes to showcase and inform their attendees about not just their convention schedule, but also:
- Event descriptions
- Vendor info
- Key events (“Don’t miss our most attended panels!”)
- Guest Bios
- Twitter updates (based on hashtags and accounts)
In short: the Convention Guide app is a dream come true for convention promoters and tree huggers across the world: easy to access info for attendees and less wasted paper.
I should note, though, that the element that makes the Guidebook App so amazing to me isn’t the app itself (which I’ve already established as EPIC in it’s own right) but the ease of use as a promoter to plug in the information and artwork from my event. By the time I was done, the guide for The Florida Anime Experience didn’t look like “any other” event guide… it took on the character, look and feel of our Japanese animation convention. The guide conveyed the convention’s personality.
The team at Guidebook App make the creation process easy and painless which, in turn, allows promoters to create a quality and useful product for their attendees.
So why I am I writing such a blatant plug? Simple: because the product really is that good and I think other conventions should pick up on it.